It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Posted by in Parenting on June 21, 2012 0 comments

I have a Facebook friend who has just written this as her status, possibly because she was angry with some of her fellow villagers who have chosen not to help with her step-son. So it got me thinking… in our modern day society of broken families, estranged aunts and uncles and elderly grandparents who really can’t do much with their withering health, who is in the ‘modern-day village?’

I guess we first need to define who the villagers are. I will use my own personal examples of who could be in my ‘village’ for my boys and I. There are grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, there is their father and all his siblings and his parents, but then their is our community.. generally the school community – teachers, friends’ parents, friends, sports coaches and school crossing supervisors for a start, but then we can broaden that to shop assistants, police officers, bus drivers, etc. Every single person my children meet is someone who can teach my children something new. It maybe crossing the road more safely, tying their shoelaces a new way, teaching them a new way to peel an orange to make it more enjoyable… anything. Each person can contribute something valuable to my boys’ lives.

The Africans came up with the ‘proverb’ “it takes a village to raise a child” and there are variations on a theme. Most suggest that even though a child has biological parents, they don’t necessarily have to live in the same home as their parents. They are part of the village and any villager can take them in if they need a bed for the night or some food. It is a comforting thought isn’t it? That your family is the community, not just your parents. It’s liberating for parents and child, but our financial responsibilities and our selfishness in western society dictate our abilities and refine our responsibilities to who we bring into this world… as a HUGE generalisation (as I know many who don’t).

So, in our first-world community, can we bring back these simple values into our community? Possibly not without legal contracts, financial expectations and changing our hectic lives. But if our ‘village’ is reduced only to blood relations of the child, then it should be possible. There are many loving families who would do anything for their grand-children or nieces and nephews, but unfortunately not all families are made that way. As a parent, sometimes you just need that time apart to clear your head to be a better parent, some family members see it, others ignore it.

For those families who ignore your need for help and defy the proverb, maybe it’s time to move to Africa and get a little more love from the community! 🙂